May is Asthma Awareness Month, and similar to other “awareness” campaigns, much of what you will read and hear about asthma this month is a regurgitation of things that most people are already very well “aware” of.
So I’m going to tell you a few things you might NOT know about asthma, as well as some nifty (non-medication) ways you can get relief.
It has different causes
Extrinsic asthma is triggered by an allergic reaction and tends to be seasonal in nature. The immune system overreacts, creating inflammation which makes breathing difficult, especially exhaling. This is by far the most common type of asthma.
Occupational asthma is caused by hypersensitivity to chemical substances, usually plastics.
Intrinsic asthma is triggered by something other than allergies—such as anxiety, stress, exercise, cold air, dry air, hyperventilation, smoke, viruses or other irritants.
Medication–relief but more problems
There is no shortage of medications available for asthma, but they can cause additional problems that can arguably be as bad as your asthma symptoms, and/or precipitate the need for other medications to address the side effects! (I call that “medication cascade.”)
Antihistamines can cause drowsiness, headaches, stomach upset and drying of mucus membranes.
Bronchodilators (inhalers) may lead to dependence where you need to use them all the time just to keep your airways open. Plus they can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, and anxiety.
And corticosteroids can cause Candida infection, adrenal problems, thinning of the skin and connective tissue, cataracts, and bone problems.
Your diet makes a difference
Here are some foods that have been shown to be helpful for asthma symptoms, associated problems and medication side effects:
- Bone broths—especially homemade chicken broth
- Cruciferous vegetables—broccoli, arugula, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, radishes, collard greens rutabaga and Brussels sprouts
- Chili pepper
- Nuts and seeds
- Onions and garlic
You can exercise in most cases
Many asthmatics are fearful of exercise, thinking that increased respiration may bring on an attack.
But as long as your doctor says it’s OK, exercise can be tremendously helpful with asthma!
There are many great athletes who have suffered from asthma but certainly didn’t let it keep them from achieving their fitness goals—Olympic track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee, NBA player Dennis Rodman, NFL player Jerome Bettis, Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken and marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, to name a few.
Undiagnosed food allergies may be an underlying issue
Many studies have shown that food allergies play a significant role in asthma. Common food allergies are wheat, corn, dairy, peanuts, eggs, and processed foods with artificial colorings.
Talk to your doctor about food allergy testing if you have never been tested, or if it’s been a while since your last testing.
Here are some very helpful supplements to consider to help ease asthma symptoms:
Probiotics like Super Shield can help with asthma naturally from within…encouraging your immune system to react more appropriately to environmental factors without the typical inflammatory response seen with asthma and allergies.
Super Shield contains the probiotic strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis, both of which have been heavily studied and shown to be helpful to asthma and eczema sufferers.
The primary antioxidant for the lungs is vitamin C. Several studies have shown significant improvements in lung function when asthmatics supplemented with 1,000 – 2,000 mg of vitamin C each day.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids
Asthma is characterized by an inflammatory reaction, but you can help reduce inflammation dramatically and fight asthma by engaging the power of Nature’s anti-inflammatory—Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
In addition to eating salmon like I mentioned above, supplementation with a top-notch fish oil formula like VitalMega-3 can help ensure you have adequate supplies of these crucial nutrients.
The antioxidant glutathione is found in the lining of the lungs and plays a role in the regulation of inflammatory responses, and low levels of glutathione are common in people with asthma.
Glutathione is produced by your body, and oral supplements are typically not well absorbed. But your body’s production of glutathione is boosted by lipoic acid, so many experts recommend supplementing with 100 mg of lipoic acid each day to naturally “nudge” your body into maintaining healthy glutathione levels.
Avoid asthma triggers
The following drugs, foods, and substances have been shown to be asthma triggers and should be avoided as much as possible:
- Citrus fruits
- Dairy products
- Dyes and preservatives
- Tap water
Now you are truly “aware” of some ways to help curb your asthma symptoms and get relief!